Nobody likes to receive a parking ticket, especially when it appears to be unwarranted. Students who have gotten tickets feel campus safety issues tickets too often and too inconsistently.
Chrissy Homsher is a senior sports management major who recently got a ticket for parking in visitor parking in Thomas garage on the weekend of March 7, just as spring break was beginning.
“They say that you can park anywhere at certain times, but then I get tickets all the time for that,” said Homsher, who feels the parking rules at UT are not clearly explained to students.
I have received several tickets on weekends, which made no sense since students are supposed to be able to park in any lot on weekends. Something needs to be done about how the rules and regulations are presented to students.
Homsher appealed her most recent ticket but hasn’t heard back from campus safety. When I received tickets in the past, I was charged immediately to my account, and then never notified that the request to appeal the ticket had not been granted. The only way I found out was by checking my account everyday to see if the charge had been removed. Once four weeks had past, I assumed that they were not going to appeal my ticket.
“If you appeal, you should hear back either way, like if it’s granted or not granted,” Homsher said.
Tickets can be appealed only within the first five days after they are received. Students should be granted a larger window to appeal tickets due to our busy schedules. Sometimes students won’t even see a ticket on their vehicle until after the five days have passed.
Another issue is that there are too few parking spaces, especially for commuters. Homsher, a commuter, is often late to class due to the sparse amount of spots available. I feel as though campus safety should be more lenient when it comes to ticketing commuters because of the influx of cars on campus. Also, there should be more spots designated for commuters.
UT is making attempts to improve the parking situation, such as the addition to the Thomas parking garage, which has added 400 spaces. Next year, freshmen will no longer be issued parking passes. The addition of new spaces and elimination of freshmen parking may help, but won’t completely solve the issue, which goes to show that something more needs to be done for commuters, and residents alike. Either there needs to be even more parking, or campus safety needs to be more lenient about issuing tickets.
“Students can park in most campus parking areas over the weekend, with the exception of fire lanes and spaces for those with disabilities,” said Linda Devine, UT’s vice president for operations and planning, whose work is focused on the services that add to student experiences, as well as longer-range planning such as parking rules.
This statement confuses me because I, as well as other students, have received tickets on the weekends for parking in visitor parking in Thomas or West garage.
This comes back to the issue of consistency, as well as communication. It is imperative that students are made aware of where they can and cannot park to avoid unnecessary tickets.
“We post vehicle registration and traffic regulations on the website (ut.edu/safety/parking/), and they are printed on the back of campus maps,” Devine said.
Devine also mentioned that rules are provided to those who register a vehicle on campus. However, when registering my vehicle, all I received was my parking decal. Homsher had a similar experience.
“I know when I got my parking pass, they didn’t tell me where to park and where not to park,” Homsher said.
While I can understand that we are expected to read signs and research this information online, the rules are not easy to find online if you are not provided with the direct link. The funds from tickets are allocated to the University general fund, as reported by Devine. Students should be able to know what their money is being used for, especially because so many tickets are unwarranted. The school is essentially getting extra money from us for no reason, which isn’t right.
When assigning parking passes, it would be helpful if campus safety issued a list of parking rules to go along with the pass. This would help them to cover all of their bases, and they wouldn’t have to spend so much time writing tickets for students.
Liz Rockett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.